Sunday, December 13, 2015



Hi all my fine friends out there!

How are you this week? I am well and even more busy than I was before, lol! The novel I wrote is taking off and I have been asked several questions about the story. First and foremost is “What exactly is an Azhdaha?”  

I refer to an animal called an Azhdaha in the novel Of One Tongue. See if you can figure out what kind of animal it is… 

The beast advanced several cubits, then stopped to sniff again. Nabella’s eyes darted to and fro. She would have to veer left and run past the animal to reach the nearest tree. Nabella calculated the steps and the final jump to the lowest branch. Could she make it? Doubt slithered through her. The branch would be above her head. Without a sound Nabella clasped and unclasped her free hand. If she jumped high enough and scrambled up the tree she would be safe. But that meant she would have to pass within a hairsbreadth of the beast. 
 It took another step.
If she didn’t do something soon, it would be too late….
Nabella sprang forward with a crash. She surged to her full height and took a quick look in the creature’s direction. Her legs faltered and eyes flew wide. This was no deer that had come to nibble on the brush. Dark unblinking eyes set deep behind an elongated snout filled with jagged teeth stared at her. A straight, rigid neck supported the large head and widened into shoulders of short powerful front legs, each ended with a massive protruding thumb claw. A small backward-pointed dermal ridge ran from the crest of its head down the length of its back turning into smaller bumps that protruded across the top if its long, thick tail. Its dimpled skin pulled taut over well-defined muscles of larger hind legs that ended in three enormous hind toes. Though it stood on all fours now, Nabella knew it could run fast as a cheetah on just its hind legs. Her stomach twisted. 
An Azhdaha tanniyn!

Have you figured it out yet? If you said some type of dinosaur
your right! Here is the definition you can find in the glossary of the book:

Azhdaha (Ăz-dă-hă)—a Tetanuran dinosaur, Baryonyx. Meaning heavy claw. This dinosaur (or dragon as all dinosaurs were known in ancient times) is a very strange looking animal. The design of its hips and pelvis allow it to be bipedal. It had a long curved claw on the thumb of each forehand, about 31 cm (12 in). However, for a bipedal its forelimbs were unusually large (large enough to support its weight) but smaller than the hind legs. The bone structure suggests a huge muscle ran down
Notice the large thumb claw
the sides of each front leg and its probable these muscles were designed for the thumb claw. This type of structure also grants it the ability to spend a great deal of time on all fours. This predator dinosaur ate fish and other animals. Bones of an Ornithopod dinosaur, Iguanodon, were found along with fish remains in a Baryonyx skeleton. Its skull is similar to a crocodile’s therefore devouring other animals besides fish would be no different than what crocodiles do today.”

So there really was an animal that fits the description of what I call an Azhdaha (Which is babylonian for dragon) that once roamed parts of the earth. It is known from “…fossils found in southern England and Spain. The first example was discovered by amateur fossil-hunter, William Walker, who, in 1983, came across an enormous claw sticking out of the side of a clay pit near Dorking, Surrey in England. About 70% of the skeleton, including the skull, as well as the fossilized remains of its last meal inside the rib cage (which is how we know it ate fish), was recovered from this find…Subsequently, further Baryonyx fossils were found in Spain (and Portugal).”

The same Baryonyx fossil that contained the remains of fossilized fish where its stomach chamber would have been, also contained some partially digested bones of a iguanodon dinosaur. Thus the animal was not strictly a fish eater and could have wandered away from water sources in search of other prey items. And this is what I used to come up with the above scene from the novel.  

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from Of One Tongue. It is available on Amazon Books and would make a great Christmas present, especially for those who love historical Christian fiction, great adventure and a sprinkling of romance!

Until next time, God bless and take care!
Willow Dressel


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